Museum Center levy approval depends on conditions being met

Nov 15, 2013

Hamilton County's Tax Levy Review Committee (TLRC) is recommending the county commissioners place a five-year levy for the Cincinnati Museum Center in November 2014, but only if the museum center meets certain conditions.

The conditions laid out to the county commissioners are:

- that the Cincinnati Museum Center, the city of Cincinnati, and Hamilton County form a task force to "ascertain and approve the necessary plans and cost for renovation" and upkeep of Union Terminal, which houses the museum center;

- that ownership of the Union Terminal should be transferred from its current owner - the city of Cincinnati -  to a to-be-formed new entity who will have responsibility for renovating and operating the Union Terminal facility;

- and that 100 percent of the funds required for repair and upkeep of Union Terminal be identified and committed, and come from public and private sources, including corporate and individual sponsors, federal and state grants, historic and new market tax credits, and the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

The 11-member board, which reviewed the Cincinnati Museum Center's request for a May levy that would generate over $15 million over five years, said in a letter to commissioners that the taxpayers of Hamilton County will have funded $70 million in museum improvements by the time the current levy expires.

The board recommended moving that back to the November 2014 election.

The TLRC praised the Museum Center staff for doing an "excellent job" of running the museum center's Children's Museum, the Omnimax Theater, the Natural History Museum and the History Museum.

But, the TLRC said, "believes that further funding (a) should be oriented toward a long-term solution; and (b) should be provided by multiple public and private sources.

The county commissioners are planning to discuss the TLRC recommendation at its staff meeting Monday.